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China going forward on climate pact

By Wang Yanfei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-12 06:47
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Official says US waffling on issue has no bearing on what Beijing will do

China's special envoy on climate change reaffirmed on Tuesday the nation's commitment to its 2015 Paris pledge, even if domestic policies in the United States change.

"A retreat from the Paris pact may drag down the pace of the US to fulfill its pledges, but it has no impact on China," Xie Zhenhua, a veteran climate change negotiator who has participated in United Nations climate change conferences, said at a news conference after the BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change closed in Beijing on Tuesday.

The BASIC countries refer to four emerging economies sharing similar stances on climate change actions - Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

Xie cited remarks made by President Xi Jinping during the Davos Forum in January. Xi said sticking to the Paris agreement is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.

Xie said China is capable of fulfilling its pledges ahead of schedule.

China has pledged to cut its emissions per unit of GDP by 60 percent to 65 percent by 2030 from its 2005 level, according to the Paris pact, which went into effect last year.

Xie's affirmation of China's commitment comes after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that runs counter to former President Barack Obama's plan to reduce global warming.

Obama pledged to reduce US emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025 from its 2005 levels.

Xie said China and other BASIC countries will keep an eye on US foreign policy to address the climate subject, because the world's second largest green gas emitter would have a large impact on the global efforts combating climate change.

"Although Trump promised to pull out of the Paris agreement during his campaign, his administration is now split on whether to keep the pledge," said Barbara Thomson, South Africa's deputy minister of environmental affairs.

"At this stage, the thing we BASIC members can do is to affirm our position in climate change actions," Thomson said. "Our clear attitude may have an impact on US politics and domestic policy."

If the US retreats from the pact, developed countries would need to cover the US funding shortfall, Xie said.

In the Paris Agreement, developed countries pledged to provide $100 billion in funding by 2020 to help developing countries combat climate change.

Ministers stressed in their joint announcement on Tuesday that developed countries participating in the Paris pact should enhance their financial, technological and other support to developing countries.

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